To the average student, science class feels like a series of disjointed learning activities. They don’t really know why they are learning what they are learning, nor how what they’re learning connects to the real world.
There are two things teachers can do to address this lack of coherence:
- Plan each instructional unit around a specific science phenomenon (read more about how to plan science units around intriguing phenomena here).
- Use a summary chart to help students keep track of what they learn from their lesson activities and then use their learning to help them explain how and why that phenomenon occurs.
In this blog, I focus on summary charts as a high-leverage tool in science classrooms.
What is a summary chart?
If we keep doing the same thing we will continue to get the same results.
The time is NOW to transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Our students can’t wait! The Chicago Public Schools transition plan below has us at FULL implementation of NGSS next year:
Two of the key shifts with NGSS are the following:
- Phenomena: K-12 students should be using science ideas to explain HOW and WHY science phenomena occur.
- Science and Engineering Practices: K-12 students should be engaging in the 8 science and engineering practices (e.g., developing and using models, engaging in argument from evidence) in order to learn the content and explore the crosscutting concepts. The days of teaching an isolated unit about the scientific method are over (note: the scientific method does NOT provide an accurate vision of the work of scientists–read more here).
Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) is one way to address these two NGSS shifts:
The following MBI “How To” Guides were developed by AUSL teachers for AUSL teachers. Over the last two years, the teachers that make up the AUSL Science Teacher Network Team have been studying NGSS and best practices for science teaching. They’ve tried out and refined these strategies in their own classrooms and through Lesson Study, and synthesized their learning in these guides and Tch AUSL videos.
- MBI Guide #1: How to Come Up With an Engaging Phenomenon to Anchor a Unit (TchAUSL VIDEO)
- MBI Guide #2: How to Engage Students in Developing and Using Explanatory Models (TchAUSL VIDEO)
- MBI Guide #3: How to Use Summary Charts in the Classroom (TchAUSL VIDEO)
- MBI Guide #4: How to Enhance Discourse in the Science Classroom (TchAUSL VIDEO)
Special thanks to the following staff for creating these resources:
- Darrin Collins (Phillips Academy High School)
- Deanna Digitale-Grider (Solorio Academy High School)
- Kristel Hsiao (formerly at Solorio Academy High School)
- Kat Lucido (Phillips Academy High School)
- Nicole Lum (Orr Academy High School)
- Sarah Rogers (formerly at Howe School of Excellence)
- Alexa Young (Marquette School of Excellence)
- Chris Bruggeman (AUSL Technology Coordinator)
Post your questions and the examples of MBI from your classroom below.
Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) is an engaging, NGSS-aligned, research-based approach to scienceinstruction (Windschitl, Thompson, & Braaten, 2008).
There are 5 steps to implementing MBI:
- Plan your instructional units around meaningful real world phenomena
- Elicit and work from students initial ideas
- Engage students in ongoing and in-depth sense making
- Provide students with opportunities to revisit and revise their thinking
- Have students apply their learning to a new, related phenomenon
In the following video, we introduce you to Model-Based Inquiry and provide you with a peek into what it looks like in action (in our very own AUSL classrooms). After you watch the video, scroll down to read more about the 5 steps to implementing MBI, as well as 3 tips for improving your teaching practice immediately. Enjoy!